The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Crystal Palace
Magpies vs Eagles in A BATTLE TO THE DEATH. Or until 90 minutes are up.
There's plenty to be excited about here: Crystal Pulis are on the search for a crucial point away from home, while Newcastle's thrilling tussle with Southampton for eighth place continues unabated.
- Fulham 1-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Hull 1-4 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-4 Spurs (Prem)
- Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle (Prem)
CRYSTAL PALACE FORM
- S'land 0-0 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 0-1 So'ton (Prem)
- Swansea 1-1 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 0-2 Man Utd (Prem)
- Palace 3-1 WBA (Prem)
OK, we didn't sell that at all well. But the fact is Newcastle are in a kind of limbo for the rest of the season: eight points off a European spot, having played one game more than sixth-placed Everton, and nine points ahead of the bottom half. It's times like this that a manager needs to revitalise his players and give them targets to aim for – but their wrist-slapped manager is at home with his feet up watching box-sets of Deadwood.
Crystal Palace's players have plenty of motivation: staying in the Premier League, mostly. They have scored just six – six! – goals in their 14 away matches this season, and haven't won a league game on the road in 2014, settling for draws at Swansea and Sunderland. That may be enough – you'd probably back them to survive given the sheer incompetence of some of the teams around them (we're looking at you, Cardiff) – but there's no reason for them to be unambitious.
Newcastle lost to rock-bottom Fulham last week, and are up and down more than the Grand Old Duke of York. At the moment, at least, they shouldn't be unduly feared.
Palace haven't scored against Newcastle in six meetings, their last goal against the Magpies coming 15 years ago via Lee Bradbury (now managing Havant & Waterlooville in Conference South, if you were wondering). Their last win was another year before that, when Tomas Brolin was up front and Attilio Lombardo scored. Glory, glory days.
Newcastle's injury list is turning into an unabridged version of the Magna Carta. Top scorer Loic Remy is out with a calf injury, with the North-East club failing to net in the six league games he's missed.
Other absentees include Mathieu Debuchy (groin), Gabriel Obertan (knee) and Ryan Taylor (dead?), while Palace's visit is likely to come too soon for Hatem Ben Arfa and Gael Bigirimana. On the plus side, Davide Santon's convalescence is nearing an end, so he may replace Paul Dummett at left-back.
The visitors will be without forwards Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) and Dwight Gayle (ankle), barring an extremely rapid recovery for the latter. There are doubts over Danny Gabbidon, who scored an own goal in this fixture at Christmas, and Barry Bannan, who has the sniffles.
Player to watch: Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle)
The former Bordeaux man reached double figures in league goals in each of his last two seasons, and with six to date – making him Newcastle's top scorer after Remy (13) and the departed Cabaye (7) – he may do so again. 'Goof' plays out on the left and is yet to score in 2014, but he may be the home side's biggest threat in this game, with Remy likely to be replaced by misfiring Papiss Cisse. United need him to hit the scoring form of late 2013, when he found the net in five consecutive home matches while also helping out defensively.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Palace 0-3 N'castle (Prem, Dec 13)
- N'castle 2-0 Palace (Ch, Jan 10)
- Palace 0-2 N'castle (Ch, Aug 09)
- N'castle 0-0 Palace (Prem, Apr 05)
- Palace 0-2 N'castle (Prem, Nov 04)
Certain sections of the media with column inches to fill are claiming that Tony Pulis has had a bust-up with Palace chairman Steve Parish over pre-season friendlies, something the manager has denied:
"The Championship starts two weeks earlier than the Premier League, so how can we put anything in place until we know what division we are in? The story is ridiculous."
Intriguingly, the same trouble-makers suggest Alan Pardew would be the man to replace the Welshman at Selhurst Park, because it's not as if he already has a lucrative contract at a better club or anything.
Pardew won't face the team who gave him a Football League debut at 25. The silver fox is yet to complete his stadium ban, which he's finding particularly gutting having bought tickets to see Sol Campbell's Q&A at the Emirates next month. John Carver, fresh from being the hero of a terrible Disney action flick, will deputise.
Facts and figures
- 11 of Palace’s last 13 away matches have had fewer than 3 goals as they’ve scored just 5 goals.
- Newcastle have won 3 of 4 home matches this season against the current bottom-six but they’ve all been won by just 1 goal.
- 5 of Palace’s last 6 away matches have been goalless at half-time.
- 12 of Palace’s 17 defeats this season have been either 1-0 or 2-0.
Newcastle continue to struggle without Remy, but similarly goal-shy Palace can't take advantage. 0-0.